Tip of the Day: Cleaning AR-15 Chambers with a Brush and Drill

As an owner of several AR-15 rifles, I’ve found that it’s relatively difficult to clean the chamber from accumulated gunk. Q-tips and patches don’t easily reach all the little nooks and crannies, and the standard chamber brushes are difficult (particularly when new) to fit into the chamber.
An easy, if somewhat l0w-tech solution, is to screw the brush into a length of cleaning rod that you’re not terribly fond of and then chuck the rod into an electric drill (or a brace-and-bit if you really want to go low-tech). First, I apply some cleaning solvent (I’m partial to Break-Free CLP, but anything should do) to the brush. Next, start the drill? clockwise at its lowest speed setting (you do not want high rpms while doing this) and insert the brush into the chamber via the back of the upper receiver as normal.
Voil?! While being driven by the drill, the brush now goes into the chamber with considerable ease. With it now fully in the chamber, the bristles can scrub all the oft-neglected parts like the locking lugs.
I generally keep the brush turning through the insertion, cleaning, and removal phases, as it makes it much easier to move about. While one can remove the non-rotating brush, it’s much more difficult to do so. Running the drill counter-clockwise will cause the brush to unscrew from the rod, which is trivial to fix, or jamming the brush in the chamber and possibly scratching the chamber, which is less trivial.
I’ve been doing this regularly for years with no ill effects — the steel and chrome of the chamber is much harder than the bronze bristles of the brush, and I’ve detected no signs of wear, scratching, or other problems.
Hopefully this helps people clean their ARs more effectively.
Got any more tips and tricks? I’m always interested in more.

Shopping Around

After spending a few days of spring break in Massachusetts doing wedding planning stuff and spending some time with the soon-to-be-in-laws (it’s cold in MA!), I’m back in Tucson.
After driving back from Phoenix (where I flew into and spent a few days with The Girl), I decided to stop at the Sportsmans Warehouse in Tucson and browse. As usual, their ammo/powder/primer supplies were depleted. A good 1/4th of their rifle racks were bare; I’m not sure if this is a result of their fun happy financial times or limited supplies from upstream suppliers. They did, however, have DPMS 30-round AR-15 magazines for a whopping $30 (not including tax) each. These same magazines sell, at retail prices, on DPMS’ own website for $18-$20. Yowzers.
On the same trip, I stopped by Murphy’s Guns and looked at their wares. Business was good, with two customers filling out 4473s for new guns, a few people buying ammo, and a bunch of people perusing the racks. They had several ARs in stock, an AK or two, the absurd-looking “Rolling Thunder” shotgun from Mossberg (photo here, press release here), and the normal selection of pistols, all at reasonable prices. There were a few higher-priced specialty rifles like the FN FS2000 (~$1,400, if I recall correctly) on the shelves as well. They were out of the Federal .223 ammo, but had plenty of PMC, Wolf, and Prvi Partizan .223 left (as well as a bunch of Prvi M193). They recently raised prices on the Prvi M193 from $9.19/20 to $10.xx (I forgot the cents), but they still have several of the old-priced stuff in the same crate, so I picked up 60 rounds of that stuff today. Get it while you can.
Alas, I ended up spending money today that I would rather have saved: one of the UPSes for my? computers had been indicating that its batteries needed to be replaced for some time (its runtime could be measured in tens of seconds rather than tens of minutes) and beeping annoyingly, so I bought some replacement batteries today. So far, so good — the batteries haven’t exploded yet, and they seem to be charging well.
I also took my motor scooter down to the shop, as I’ve been having annoying failures-to-start that would suggest a dead battery, but the battery is fine according to my float charger and my neighbor’s multimeter. Most days it starts just fine, but some days the lights only come on dimly and it won’t turn over (when I press the electric starter, the lights get even dimmer, suggesting that it’s supplying power to the starter motor but not enough to make it work). Occasionally it’ll turn over once, but not fast enough to start. If it does turn over once, something happens where I can’t kick-start it (but jump starting it from another vehicle works fine). If it doesn’t turn over electrically, then it’ll start just fine with the kick-starter. Hopefully the shop can figure it out, and hopefully it’ll be under warranty — money’s tight enough as it is.
As I had mentioned in a previous post, I’ve recently been struck with some inspiration for a lengthy piece of writing (whether it turns out to be a short story or a full-blown novel is left to my muse). I’ve been reading up on tips for turning such inspiration into a coherent story, and have been outlining some of my thoughts, detailing characters, etc. No idea when the first chapter will be done, but I’ll let you know when it is.

Tragic Irony

Over the last day or so, I’ve been having a civil discussion with a gentleman in Germany about violent crime in the US and how — in his opinion — our lack of gun control contributes to said crime.
He went on to say that Germany’s relatively strict gun control makes violent crime much less common than in the US, particularly in the context of school shootings.
Just today, however, there was a tragic school shooting in Germany. In the gentleman’s own words, the shooting “sure takes some wind out of my sail saying those things happen because there are too many guns…”
Dammit. I hate it when things like this happens.

Saturday Shooty Goodness

I’ve spent so much time over the last few years teaching new people the basics of shooting that I’ve not really had time to practice on my own. Alas, I seem to have lost quite a bit, and need to practice more.
Saturday was supposed to be a big group shooty time, but we had 5-6 people either cancel at the last minute (one due to feeling ill, so that’s ok) or simply not show up (turns out that they had partied a bit too hard on Friday night, and were still sleeping it off). As such, it was just Doug, Louis, and I who went to the range.
Doug had been working on a small, programmable microcontroller for a few weeks. His hope would be that when the chip detected a sharp sound (e.g. from a gunshot), it would fire an IR LED with the proper sequence to trigger the shutter on a Nikon camera. We wanted to get some pictures of bolts cycling, as human reaction time is just too slow to get satisfactory pictures. Unfortunately, the microphone was a bit too sensitive, and the wind kept triggering it, so we abandoned that plan and just ended up shooting all day. Oh well.

Doug with his diabolical contraption and Asus Eee PC.

I had a fair bit of .223 piled up (~400 rounds), so we decided to run it through both of my ARs. Both the 16″ and 20″ ARs handled Federal XM193F, Ultramax 55gr, and Prvi Partizan M193 flawlessly. No failures of any sort out of the 300 or so rounds we actually fired.
Doug and I doing...er...science. Ammo-testing science.

It’d been far too long since I was behind a trigger, and I admit that my technique has degraded a bit. While rusty, I was consistently rusty. So long as I maintain that consistency, I think I should be able to improve quickly with some more practice. For practice, I think I should find a specific, standard type of ammo (like Prvi M193 or something), zero for it, and
I'm actually getting some trigger-time!

In addition to the standard paper targets, we also brought my Do-All-Traps spinner target that Sarah had given me for Christmas. According to the box, it’s rated to handle 9mm Luger all the way up to .30-06 Springfield, so long as one uses soft point bullets. Alas, I have no soft points, and factory loaded SPs are considerably pricier than FMJs. Previous tests with various bullet types seemed to indicate that the two “spinner” targets could handle .223 FMJ with no damage, while the “reset” target developed a small dimple, as it didn’t have the same range of motion as the spinners. We figured that so long as we shot the spinner targets with .223 FMJ, it’d be ok.
Unfortunately, this previous testing was done with my medium-powered handloads, and not the hot, mil-spec Federal XM193F stuff. One of us (I think it was Doug) goofed and shot the reset target with one of these speedy little bullets, resulting in a grape-diameter dent in the steel and there’s a substantial bulge on the back of the target. Wowzers, this is some hot stuff. A few shots later to the spinners resulted in one of the spinners breaking in half and sending a semi-circular chunk spinning a few feet downrange.

Evidently when the manual says “No FMJ”, they mean it. It applies double to mil-spec FMJ. Who would have thought? Oh well. Anyone in Tucson have a welder? It’d be nice to re-weld the target and put some heavier steel plate on there so I can shoot FMJ at it without a problem.
As .223 is expensive, we also did some rotations on the suppressed 10/22. Alas, the spinner target is too heavy and .22 won’t flip them up. Even so, the targets go “ping” and bounce around, which is fun. When we went downrange later, there were a bunch of flattened out lead disks around the spinner — evidently the .22s flatten out almost completely and just lie around the target. We weren’t able to find any .223 fragments, not even pieces of the jacket.

As fun as the ARs are, I think I’m going to need to spend a bit more time behind the 10/22 to get back in practice. Inexpensive ammo is wonderful, and .223 is anything but inexpensive.
Between school, trying to get in shape (both in general and for the wedding), and work, I don’t have all that much time for range trips, but I see about making some time, possibly over the summer. Maybe get involved with some regularly-scheduled things like silhouette or action-shooting matches. We’ll see.


I went to the local gun shop (Murphy’s Guns & Gunsmithing at Ft. Lowell & Country Club in Tucson) this afternoon with a few friends. We were mostly looking at getting a few boxes of ammo (mostly .223), and also to look at all the shiny stuff.
After seeing most gun shops being absurdly busy and having bare shelves, I was pleasantly surprised to see this shop with only modest customer traffic (granted, it was a Friday afternoon), a good selection of firearms (including four AR-15s and several AK variants), and a wide selection of ammo at reasonable prices.
The ARs on the shelves included at least one Bushmaster and one S&W, both priced around $900-$1,000 (which seems quite reasonable for those specific models, almost pre-frenzy prices). Prvi Partizan M193 5.56mm ammo was $9.19/20, though some of the boxes in the crate were labled at $10 (it looks like they just got some new boxes in and put the higher price on the new stuff without relabeling the old stuff). Federal XM193F (I’ve never seen the “F” designation before, but it looks good) was available for $9.99/20. I picked up three boxes of the Federal and two boxes of the Prvi (I have one at home, making it an even 60 rounds, and my friend Louis bought three boxes of Prvi for me as well — thanks Louis).
While I can’t exactly call the ammo prices “cheap”, they were not unreasonable given today’s market. Even better, they had a bunch of the ammo (most online vendors are sold out, and the shelves at the local big-box sporting goods stores are bare) and I could support a local small business.
I felt like I was in some kind of fantasy land, what with reasonably-priced, available guns and ammo.
Someone pinch me.

Good Lawyers

It’s regularly advised on various gun-related forums that gun owners should have the contact number of a good gunny-friendly lawyer to call in the unlikely and undesireable event that one is needed. Better safe than sorry, right?
Does anyone have any recommendations for such lawyers in the Tucson and Chandler areas? Ideally, they’d have some number one could call day or night in the event that they’re needed. I tend to avoid lawyers and other legal-related stuff like the plague.
That said, I don’t have any particularly need for a lawyer (I’m not in any sort of legal trouble), but I’d like to have one on call just the same. Preferably one that’s not shady.

Planned Shooty Goodness

Myself and several others are planning on going to the Tucson Rifle Club this Saturday for some shooty goodness. It’d be great if any readers wanted to come along.
The current plan is to bring 1-2 new shooters, and possibly one anti-gun individual, so if you decide to come along, be nice. 🙂
Current plan is for personal friends to meet up at my residence, go over safety and basic gun-handling, and leave around 11:30am-noon. The plan is to arrive between about 12:30pm and 1pm. If any readers wish to come along, send me an email and I’ll provide contact information so we can coordinate.
Sorry for the short notice, but this was put together at the last minute.

Those That Can, Do – and Teach

I’m a regular reader of Fark and am often found commenting on gun threads.
One of the more interesting part of doing so is connecting with other gunny types, particularly those who are looking for more information.
A few months ago, I had mentioned that I’d be happy to offer one-on-one instruction in Tucson to people interested in basic metallic cartridge reloading. At least one person took note of this offer: a medical student at the university emailed me to see if the offer still stood, as he had just ordered some reloading gear and wanted to make sure he wouldn’t blow himself up while making ammo. Of course, I accepted, as it’s always good to get more people reloading safely.
For those who don’t recall, I have a few more standing offers:

  • For anyone: If you’ve never shot a gun (or it’s been a long time since you shot tin cans with your grandfather’s BB gun when you were a kid), regardless of your stance regarding guns, I invite you to go shooting. I’ll pay all the range fees, provide the guns, ammo, safety equipment, targets, instructions, etc. All you need to do is show up and have an open mind.
  • For members of the media: Many journalists are not familiar with firearms, and so often make factual errors when reporting on gun-related topics. In the interest of accurate news, I’ll answer any gun-related questions you might have (or, if I’m unable to answer a specific question, I’ll direct you toward people who do know) at no cost. Simply contact me with sufficient time (at least a day, if possible) before your deadline and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. No strings attached.

ATF sending out CD-ROMs

I’m a C&R 03 FFL holder, and have occasionally used it for acquiring various C&R firearms. For the most part, though, I don’t use it for anything except discounts at the occasional online retailer.
The ATF, however, must not have any sort of internal differentiation between 01 (normal “gun shops”) and 03 FFLs, and so sends C&R holders all the same material that they send to dealers. In the past, this has included an annual copy of all the federal and state laws relating to the purchase and ownership of firearms, published in book form. These books are Not Small: combined thickness is about 2″.
Well, I guess the ATF realized that sending out big, heavy books is a pain in the butt, so they’re now mailing out CD-ROMs.
I suppose this could be a useful point in gun policy debates: “There are so many federal and state laws regulating firearms in the US that it became too expensive for the government to print them and mail them to gun dealers and licensed collectors, so they’re putting them on CD-ROM now. You say we need more?”
That said, I rather like the CD-ROM — it’s considerably smaller than the gigantic books.

Photographic Experiment

A few fellow students at the university and I have come up with an interesting project: we’ve figured out the IR sequence that will remotely trigger the shutter on Nikon cameras. Two of my friends have suitable Nikon SLRs and some tripods. One of them is an engineering student and has some electronic gadgets that can sense loud sounds (e.g. gunshots) and then emit the IR sequence after a user-configurable delay.
We’d like to setup the cameras so that they can take simultaneous photos of the same scene from different angles. In addition to gettting some cool pictures of brass ejecting and bolts cycling, we’d also like to place the cameras a couple inches apart and attempt to blend the two images to get 3D pictures.
I’ll keep you posted as things proceed.